Just 5 km (3 miles) from Galway, Glenlo Abbey beckons with a lobby that resembles a gentlemen's club, with parquet floors, chesterfields, and leather-bound books, while other salons are triumphs of 19th-century Irish style. With distant views of Lough Corrib and a golf course on its 138-acre estate, this rural hideaway was built as a private home in 1740 and takes its name from the vast church built next door for the owner's wife. Today, the church is used as a conference center and banquet room. Upstairs, official and correct Georgian-style furniture, brass lamps, and king-size beds fill the spacious bedrooms. Warming everything up, happily, is the genuinely friendly service. The delightfully unstuffy atmosphere is especially apparent in the Pullman Restaurant, Glenlo's most popular feature. This is set in two Orient Express carriages installed on the grounds (and used in the famous Agatha Christie film of that name), offering a fun dining experience, complete with background
click-clacks and train whistles. For more formal surroundings, repair to the classical River Room restaurant. Chandeliers hang from high stucco ceilings and tall windows framed by peach-color curtains overlook the river. The food, beautifully served, includes delights like marinated venison on a bed of braised red cabbage.